"You did so much for me." Monroe ran up to me, embraced me, and thanked me.
He thought I had done so much; I felt I had done so little.
"You listened," Monroe said and hugged me again.
In terms of my doing something, I felt inadequate.
For Monroe, I did the one healing thing I could do: I allowed him to talk and didn't judge him. That’s all he needed—someone to listen and not to tell him what a terrible failure he was.
That incident happened many times when I was a young pastor, and it took me a few days to process. Each time I had kept quiet—not out of wisdom, but out of not knowing what to say. I didn't want to offer advice out of my discomfort, or say something to make the situation worse. So I did the right thing—and, only in retrospect, understood it was correct.
Monroe and the others who came to me didn't need answers, sage advice, Bible verses, or a lecture on healthy behavior. He needed me to care, and I proved I cared by listening and accepting him in his dark moments.
If we want to help but don't know what to say,
we wisely say nothing.
(This post was adapted from Not Quite Healed, written by Cecil Murphey and Gary Roe.)